Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Roadless maps on-line

Maps of roadless areas in national forests are now posted on the U.S. Forest Service Web site,

The site also includes newspaper articles from around the nation and a special feature on the Tongass and Chugach national forests.

The Forest Service is considering whether to permanently ban road-building in areas now inventoried as roadless. The controversial proposed policy has been the subject of 190 public meetings concerning every national forest. Currently, the Tongass is exempt from an interim ban on roadbuilding in roadless areas.

A draft environmental impact statement on the issue is scheduled for release in May, followed by another round of public meetings and comment.

Vendors invited to Home Depot

BUY ALASKA, a program of the Alaska Small Business Development Center, is assisting Anchorage Home Depot with an inaugural ``Open to Buy Day.''

Alaskan vendors interested in selling to Home Depot are invited to attend the April 6 event. A location is yet to be announced.

Home Depot management will discuss vendor requirements and selling opportunities for local suppliers. Vendors and Home Depot buyers also will have one-on-one sessions. Wholesalers, dealers, product representatives, manufacturers and service organizations all are encouraged to participate.

More information is available from Bridget McLeod and Stella Josephine, (800) 478-7232.

No Dungeness fishery in Yakutat

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced that the commercial fishery for Dungeness crab in the Yakutat area will not open for summer or fall portions of the 2000-2001 fishing season.

The fishery has collapsed, and no stock improvement can be inferred from existing information, according to Fish and Game. The closure will remain in effect until stock recovery can be determined and a research and management program developed.

Venture capital forum in Anchorage

Alaska InvestNet, a program of the Juneau Economic Development Council, will host a two-day forum for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage April 3-4.

The Capital Investment Conference is in its second year trying to create networks between business innovators and potential investors.

Former Gov. Wally Hickel will give the keynote address on ``civic entrepreneurship.'' Linda Thomas, chief operating officer of Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, is among the speakers.

Registration costs $150 to $300. More information is available from Deborah Marshall at 463-3662.

InvestNet is partially funded by the Alaska Science & Technology Foundation.

New halibut fee in effect

Halibut and black cod fishermen are paying a new fee intended to cover the costs of managing and enforcing the fisheries.

A maximum 3 percent tax on sales of those fish was included in the 1996 reauthorization of the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Fishermen have been notified of the intent to apply the full 3 percent tax, said Phil Smith, administrator for the Restricted Access Management program of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau.

Based on projections for total catch and price, the tax should raise about $4 million to $5 million statewide, Smith said. If less is needed to cover costs, fishermen will be notified after the season closes Nov. 15, he said. The tax is payable in a lump sum by January 2001.

A quarter of the proceeds will fund a loan program for fishermen with small vessels who want to buy into the individual fishing quota program, increase their holdings or refinance loans.

There are 3,700 eligible halibut fishermen in Southeast this year, and about 1,000 who can fish for black cod, Smith said. Last week's opener was ``relatively quiet,'' partly due to bad weather in the Gulf of Alaska, he said.

Chamber wants lawmakers in Bush

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce is organizing a pilot project under which state legislators from urban areas and their families would spend a few days in Bush communities to see how rural Alaskans live.

Legislators would attend community functions, tour local economic projects and ``live the life of a villager for the duration of their stay,'' according to Capital Notes, a state chamber publication.

The pilot project for the Legislative Outreach Program is scheduled for this fall.

GCI posts record earnings

GCI reported record highs for revenues and pre-tax earnings in 1999.

``We completed our major infrastructure build-outs in early 1999 by turning up GCI's undersea fiber optic system and stimulated utilization of that new capacity by offering an innovative product bundle of long distance service with free dial-up Internet access,'' said President and CEO Ron Duncan.

Revenues for the year were $279.2 million, up 13.1 percent, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $58.4 million, up 42.8 percent.

A net loss of $9.5 million was recorded for the year, however, due to increased interest and depreciation charges from major capital projects. The loss was 21 cents a share. The 1998 net loss was $6.8 million, or 14 cents a share.

GCI's statewide Internet service had 54,000 subscribers by the end of 1999, an increase of 45,500.

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